Orioles notes: Struggling Caleb Joseph gets a break as long stretch of righties looms

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph is one of several members of the club who are scuffling at the plate, with no hits in his last 12 at-bats and three in 39 plate appearances overall entering Thursday.

He was replaced by Chance Sisco in the lineup with a right-handed starter pitching for the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, and with four righties projected to pitch for the Cleveland Indians in this weekend's wraparound series, manager Buck Showalter acknowledged it could be an opportunity for Sisco to play more and Joseph to get a bit of a reset.

"Obviously, he's struggling offensively," Showalter said. "He's still catching and calling a good game, but it's about how you define an opportunity. What's the end game going to be? And are you adding to subtract? Is somebody else ready? Who knows? There's only one way to find out. But yeah, there's that possibility."

Sisco is batting .257 with four RBIs, and while he doesn't have the defensive trust that Joseph has behind the plate, Joseph's .081 batting average with one extra-base hit is becoming quite an obstacle for him to overcome.

Showalter said it's mostly Joseph that's holding himself back at this point.

"He got going pretty good offensively last year," Showalter said. "I was talking to him in here yesterday, going through his track record. Obviously, it's levels behind.

"His want-to is getting in the way of his actually doing it. You can tell there's a lot of anxiety in his hitting right now — and a lot of our guys’. They're pushing, probably too much. It's really hard to get them to back off. There were three guys still in the cage when I left here last night. They're grinding, so I do get a little sensitive to people who have some perception that it's just, 'Que Sera, [Sera].' They're getting after it, almost to a fault."

Trust in Araujo

Rule 5 reliever Pedro Araujo served up the game-winning home run Wednesday in the ninth inning, but from what the Orioles have learned about him so far, Showalter isn't concerned that there will be any carryover.

"I [would] be surprised today, if he gets in the game, if he didn't pitch well," Showalter said.

Araujo had three straight scoreless outings before Wednesday, and has 16 strikeouts in 11 innings with a 5.73 ERA this season after allowing one run in 1 1/3 innings Thursday.

"Some good, some, you know, challenges," Showalter said. "It is what it is. That's the life up here. That's one of the things we've liked about him. He has a pretty strong constitution. You look for those things with their limited background and experience and stuff. That's part of the apple you bite with a Rule 5 pick — learning on the job. He's a good kid, though."

Infield choice upcoming

Showalter said when the Orioles summoned Luis Sardiñas from Triple-A Norfolk that they might not carry both him and Engelb Vielma once they return to Baltimore on Friday, and that thought still held before Thursday's game.

Determining which will stick around, though, will be difficult for him.

"We've got a little history with both of them from spring training, and Luis a little more from some people who have had him before and seen him back a lot of his career. Wayne [Kirby] was there in Texas, and Scott [Coolbaugh] before he came here,” Showalter said.

"They both bring something. I don't think somebody can sit here smugly and say exactly what each guy is and can't do. Players change. It's not like Luis Sardiñas is 30 years old. At one time, he was a who's-who prospect with Texas. What is he — 24, 25? Not even that. They're both as advertised so far. So where do we go with that? … I hate to penalize a guy just because he has options and the other guy doesn't. Sometimes, that has to play into it. But there's not a clear separator."

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